I have recently been appointed as the Mission Strategy Task Group Leader for the Eastern Baptist Association (EBA) and I had my first meeting last night with the rest of the EBA council which I have joined as part of my new role. I think that Mission Strategy Task Group Leader sounds a little pretentious and so I am considering shortening it by taking the first letter or letter of each word to make Mistagrol. What do you think? I suppose that I am Mistagrol doesn’t have the same ring to it as I am Iron man. I guess it also makes me sound like someone who trawls the internet leaving offensive comments.
Yesterday I also chaired the Berechurch network group meeting. Berechurch is the part of Colchester I live in and the network group is an opportunity for community workers and leaders to meet together to talk about how we can cooperate and support each other in order to make Berechurch a better place.
I visit a number of local schools to take part in their assemblies and one of our local schools went through a phase of introducing me as Reverend Ross. Although that is my official title, I don’t like using it. I’m Graeme who happens to be a Baptist minister. I’m Graeme who happens to be Mistagrol (until someone comes up with a better acronym anyway). I’m Graeme who happens to chair the Berechurch network group. My titles and roles don’t define me. I am me, I am not what I do.
Yesterday I also dropped my oldest son off for a residential trip. I walked to school with a screaming daughter who was over tired after a weekend sleepover. My other daughter tried to bite me and she did succeed in kicking me. Yesterday I had a lovely lunch with my wife and today I am looking forward to the space we have made to go for a walk together. I’m Graeme who happens to be a parent. I’m Graeme who happens to be a husband.
All my titles, my family relationships and friendships do shape who I am, but they don’t define me. I was created by God to enjoy life. I was created by God to explain things in clear and simple language to other people and this is especially true of explaining the Bible and my faith in Jesus. I was created to God to make people smile. These three things still don’t define me completely, but they shape a large part of how I live my life and what my priorities are. As I live my life I want these and other things to glorify God.
At the end of the film Iron Man 3, Tony Stark says,
I’m a changed man. You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys. One thing you can’t take away. I am Iron man.
His iron man suits have all been destroyed and he has lost his home but he still says ‘I am iron man’. It appears to make no sense for him to say this as his suits are gone and so he can’t function as iron man and yet what he recognizes in that moment is that he is the hero, not his suits. He is the person who makes a difference and although his suits empower him to make a difference they do not define him.
Who are you? Do you know?
Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.
This is what the Bible says in Romans 12.2. There are lots of things that will squeeze and try to define us, but God wants to shape our lives so that we can become the people that he planned for us to be. Ultimately that means that we recognise that we are his children and that he loves us, but that is just the beginning to our great adventure following him.
Who am I? I’m Graeme and I am being shaped by God who is not finished with me yet.